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Good to Know Golf Terminology

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Golf is a game of precision and strategy, but it's also a sport steeped in tradition. As with any specialised activity, golf has its own unique terms and phrases that are commonly used by players and enthusiasts. Whether you're new to the game or just looking to expand your golf vocabulary, here are some essential golf terms that every golfer should know.

The Basics

  • Par: This is the number of strokes a skilled golfer is expected to take on a hole, usually based on its length. For example, a par 3 hole would be shorter than a par 5 hole.

  • Birdie: When a player scores one stroke below par on a hole.

  • Bogey: When a player scores one stroke above par on a hole.

  • Eagle: When a player scores two strokes below par on a hole.

  • Albatross (or Double Eagle): When a player scores three strokes below par on a hole.

  • Ace (or Hole-in-One): When a player hits the ball directly into the hole from the tee.

The Course

  • Fairway: The mowed area of grass between the tee and the green. This is where players aim to hit their shots for optimal distance and control.

  • Rough: The longer grass found on either side of the fairway. Shots hit here can be more difficult to control and may require a different club or strategy than shots from the fairway.

  • Green: The well-manicured area surrounding the hole, where players putt to complete the hole.

  • Bunker: Also known as a sand trap, this is an area filled with sand that players may encounter on the course. Shots hit here can be challenging and require a different technique.

Golf Clubs

  • Driver: The longest club in a player's bag, used for hitting tee shots on longer holes.

  • Irons: Clubs with a flat, angled face used for shots that require more precision and control. Numbered irons (3 iron, 7 iron, etc.) correspond to the loft of the club and the club length.

  • Wedge: A type of iron with a higher angle of loft, used for shorter shots near the green or out of hazards. Common wedges include pitching wedges and sand wedges.

  • Putter: A flat-faced club used for putting on the green.


  • Stroke Play: The most common scoring format in golf, where players count each stroke taken and the player with the fewest strokes at the end of the round wins.

  • Match Play: A format where players compete against each other on a hole-by-hole basis. Each hole is won by the player with the fewest strokes, and the winner is determined by who wins the most holes.

Miscellaneous Terms

  • Fore: A warning shouted by players to alert others of a potentially dangerous shot, usually when the ball is headed towards another person or group on the course.

  • Handicap: A measure of a golfer's skill level, used for determining fair competition among players of different abilities. A lower handicap indicates a better player.

  • Mulligan: A do-over shot that is not counted towards the score. This term is used informally and should only be allowed with the consent of all players in a friendly round.

  • Dogleg: A hole that bends to the left or right, often requiring players to hit their shots around a corner.

These are just a few of the many terms used in golf. As you continue playing and learning about the game, you'll likely come across even more specialized terms and phrases. Knowing these basic terms will help you better understand and communicate on the course, as well as impress your fellow golfers with your knowledge. So keep practicing your swing and improving your game, all while expanding your golf vocabulary! Happy golfing

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